Sunday, 17 February 2019

Santana - Shaman (2002)

Feels like fire....


Released October 2002

Basically this is a remake of 1999's multi-million-selling Supernatural. Producer Clive Davis repeats the same formula - plenty of contemporary R'n'B/hip hop/smooth soul influences and the seemingly ubiquitous Rob Thomas making several contributions once more. in fact, even more so than Supernatural, it seems to be an album with scattered guest appearances by Carlos Santana. The album's songs seem to be created to meet the needs of the singer as opposed to fitting Carlos in. Like on Supernatural, Santana's role seems to be to float around guitar lines under the songs' more dominant vocals. Why not, I guess, seeming as the previous album was such a success. What you have to realise is that for a huge amount of people, these two albums are what Santana is. They know little or nothing of those ground-breaking late sixties/early seventies albums, the transcendental meditative mid-seventies material or the eighties rock/pop. Santana, for them, is Smooth and Maria Maria.

There is some excellent, almost perfect contemporary pop on here, but should it be considered a Santana album? I guess so, but only to an extent. All that debate apart, I really quite like it, indeed preferring it to Supernatural, particularly in its slightly less booming, more balanced, nuanced sound quality. I like the Earth, Wind & Fire-influenced cover too. I would say, though, that the album seems to go on forever - sixteen tracks with only on slightly under four minutes, clocking in at a whopping seventy-six minutes. Personally, thirty-forty minutes' of dipping in to it is preferable.


1. Adouma
2. Nothing At All
3. The Game Of Love
4. You Are My Kind
5. Amore (Sexo)
6. Foo Foo
7. Victory Is Won
8. America
9. Sideways
10. Why Don't You And I
11. Feels Like Fire
12. Let Me Love You Tonight
13. Aye Aye Aye
14. Hoy Es Adios
15. One Of These Days
16. Novus                                                  

Adouma is a thumping, rhythmic West African-influenced, invigorating opener. Nothing At All is a succulent, slow Latin groove with distinct bassy contemporary R'n'B influences in both its sound and the tone of the vocal. The Game Of Love, featuring Michelle Branch on vocals is a sweet, soulful and irresistibly singalong number that, unsurprisingly, gained loads of radio play. It was the album's perfect hit single. Carlos Santana contributes a brief but great guitar solo. You Are My Kind is introduced by some excellent Carlos guitar and has a sumptuous, relaxing, hot summer's day soul feel to it. Very light and poppy. Amore (Sexo) has a tasty vocal from the distinctive Macy Gray and some intoxicating Latin brass and rhythm.

Foo Foo sees some copper-bottomed Santana Latin grooves arrive for the first full-on time. Lots of "arriba" type vocals and melodic, deliciously catchy horns. Some sublime bass lines too. Victory Is Won is certainly a good vehicle for some powerful Santana guitar. It is a heavy, rock instrumental with some of those trademark Santana guitar lines. America also has some serious, heavy, chunky riffs and some hip/hop-style vocal interjections between the verses. It is not as bad as I have read it described in some reviews. Sideways is a laid-back bluesy number and Why Don't You And I is a riffy, pop/rock workout.

Feels Like Fire is a pleasant soul/rock female vocal ballad featuring Dido on vocals. Let Me Love You Tonight is a delicious slow number. Aye Aye Aye has a welcome return to some more typical Latin rhythms after several easy on the ear ballads. It features some appetising Spanish guitar breaks, killer percussion and frantic Spanish repeated lyrics on the refrain. The Spanish vibe continues on the sublime Hoy Es Adios which is full of Mexican brass lines. One Of These Days is quite funky in places and again just has that laid-back groove to it, augmented by some excellent Santana guitar. Novus ends the album in dignified, stately fashion with opera singer Placido Domingo on vocals. The Latin percussion, however, seems a little incongruous.

As I said earlier, this is an album to dip in and out of, and enjoy, for me, as opposed to listening to it in one full sitting.